review Stories August 22, 2016

I’ve seen Hacker’s Brew — a cold coffee drink geared towards making you more productive — discussed online for quite some time now, but I never got to try it for myself until recently. I’ve always been attracted to the look of the product, so I was thrilled when the team reached out to me to take it for a test drive.

The whole premise behind the drink is that it goes beyond the boost of caffeine obtainable by a typical trip to Starbucks, and provides a more sustained energy increase that can help with productivity.

The problem with most espresso-based drinks, at least for me, is that the effects tend to be very short-lived, and the crash that occurs thereafter can actually hurt my productivity for the rest of the day.

Hacker’s Brew, on the other hand, seeks to combine coffee with other ingredients for a more sustained cognitive boost of energy and mental stamina. Does it work? It’s hard to speak authoritatively based on my six-drink trial, but I can definitely attest to the fact that it makes me more productive than a typical espresso-based drink at Starbucks does. expand full story

review Stories August 12, 2016

Back in May, Grado Labs introduced the GS2000e over-ear headphones, the latest creation to come out of its unassuming Brooklyn factory. These new cans sit atop the Statement Series with a fresh design that marries two woods – mahogany and maple – with a hefty $1,400 price tag. But as they say, you get what you pay for…

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review Stories August 10, 2016

Today we’re taking a look at Microsoft’s new Xbox One S. The “S” stands for slim and holy crap does this console live up to its name. There are quite a few reasons to love this version over the OG Xbox One, but we’ll let you be the judge of that…

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review Stories June 15, 2016

The reality is, Apple’s pricing strategy for its Watch Bands is pretty ludicrous. We can’t recommend paying that kind of money when there are cost-effective alternatives for nearly every style available at Amazon. After all, you came to 9to5Toys for a deal, right?

We’ve already broken down the benefits of third-party Sport and Milanese bands in our previous review. Today, I’m taking a look at a Leather Loop option from OULUOQI that clocks in at just $24

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review Stories May 29, 2016

Pelican has spent decades providing the military and emergency services with its protective cases and more. The company is known for making tough and durable gear. So when I came across some of its luggage products looking for a new suitcase, the personally appealing design and pedigree of the company had me interested. Pelican recently sent over its BA22 Carry-On model from the Elite Luggage line so we could take a closer look and it was certainly a joy to use. But does its lifetime guarantee and high end features match its healthy price tag?

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review Stories April 28, 2016

If you’re looking for a gaming keyboard built around responsiveness and competition, then you should lend consideration to SteelSeries’ most recent release — the SteelSeries Apex M500. The M500 is the sequel of sorts to the SteelSeries 6Gv2, and is much leaner and compact than some of the other keyboard offerings in its class. The result? A mechanical gaming-centric keyboard that doesn’t occupy a lot of desk real estate. expand full story

review Stories February 11, 2016

Anker is one of a few big names in USB accessories, and there’s a reason for that. This week I had the chance to use several of the company’s PowerCore+ power banks (there are a lot of different offerings spanning many capacities), as well as a PowerPort+ wall charger, and a few different PowerDrive+ car chargers. There are many brands of chargers and power banks out there, and while the experience you get may be similar across the board (yes, there are many chargers and power banks out there just as good as these), Anker goes above and beyond to bring you a package that’s just very high-quality…

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review Stories November 23, 2015

Today we’re taking a look at the new limited edition Star Wars Battlefront Playstation 4. Obviously, there’s not much to say here as far as functionality goes, because well.. It’s a PS4. Pretty straightforward in that department, but the design is on another level…

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review Stories September 27, 2015

JBL first announced its new Xtreme Bluetooth speaker back in July alongside the revamped Flip 3. It is the largest and most expensive speaker in JBL’s portable Bluetooth lineup. As such, slim and quiet are not terms that we’d use to describe this new product. Instead, JBL has packed this speaker full of battery life and power to fill large spaces with sound while still remaining portable.

Read on for more details on JBL’s newest Bluetooth speaker.

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electrek 

review Stories September 18, 2015

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a bit of a chronic worrier, so naturally I jumped at the chance to try out Tile’s Bluetooth item tracker. Billed as an easy way to keep track of the things that mean most to you, Tile is like having Apple’s Find My iPhone feature for your entire life. The original Tile tracker launched in 2013 on the back of one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever, having raised more than $2.6M.

Just last month Tile launched its second generation Tracker that’s pretty similar to the original, but is just different enough that it’s worth exploring. Stay tuned to find out if these new refinements make a real difference in helping you get your lost keys back… expand full story

review Stories September 11, 2015

Monoprice has long been known as an excellent alternative to higher-priced electronics. After announcing its new action camera back in June, we spent some time playing around with it over the last month. With an included remote camera wearable and a price tag that is significantly less than GoPro’s lowest-priced entry point, we knew we had to check it out.

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review Stories September 8, 2015

JBL has been tweaking and adjusting its Bluetooth line-up of speakers for years. Instead of coming out with completely new form factors every 12 months, it has subtly adapted its previous generations with improvements. Following a big week at IFA 2015, JBL has released the third generation Flip Bluetooth speaker. We’ve had our hands on the Flip 3 for the last few weeks and now it’s time to share our thoughts.

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review Stories September 4, 2015

Portable grills are not a new thing, nor are they especially complex: if you’re looking to do basic tailgate-quality BBQing or Japanese-style yakitori grilling, you can achieve either goal for around $50 plus the $10 cost of charcoal, ignition fluid, and matches. What that will get you is a little fireproof box with a basic wire top, passive cooking features such as “adjustable air vents,” and no style.

Importing an award-winning design from Korea, a company called Homping USA is trying to change the face of portable grilling. Rather than selling a plain box with disposable parts, the Homping Grill ($199) is a 13″ circular grill with a washable 11.5″-diameter cooking surface. Available in silver with a black or orange base, it’s claimed to be “smokeless,” safe to touch, and easy to clean. A fan is built into the base so you can actively control the power of the charcoal fire inside, and a carrying bag is included for portability. After testing the Homping Grill, I had mixed feelings about its performance relative to much cheaper or peer-priced Weber portable grills, but some people may prefer its design regardless…

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review Stories August 14, 2015

At one point, gaming headsets with microphones were reserved for the hardcore gaming enthusiasts that spent hours online at a time and craved the boost of a locked-in environment. Over the last few years, companies like Turtle Beach, SteelSeries and Razer have flooded the market with headset options at all price points. However, Xbox One users have settled in with one company in particular as the go-to for supplying top-notch audio for their gaming experience.

The Turtle Beach Elite 800X hit the shelves of retailers a few months ago, labeled as “the most advanced gaming headset ever”. That’s a lofty description, but with wireless connectivity, DTS 7.1 surround sound, custom audio profiles and luxury materials, we knew we had to see if this headset lived up to the hype.  expand full story

review Stories August 5, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, what you are looking at is one of the most versatile point and shoot cameras on the planet. This is Sony’s RX 100 IV. It may be small, but don’t let its size fool you. There are a good amount of reviews that will give you every spec and detail about this camera, but I have one simple question: Is this the ultimate compact video/YouTube camera?

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9to5mac 

review Stories July 14, 2015

Apple doesn’t make it easy to expand the storage of its mobile devices. This becomes a big issue when you start shooting HD videos and downloading Retina apps. Most people (especially 16GB device owners) wind up filling their devices to the point that they don’t have enough space to install updates. Over the past couple of years SanDisk’s Connect wireless flash drives have been one of the best ways to workaround this problem: they allow you to have access to huge media files whenever you want and to take as many pictures as you want without eating up precious on-board storage.

This morning SanDisk released its new Connect Wireless Stick. This drive has a refreshed design, lower price point and is now available with up to 128GB. I’ve been using it for the past few days. Read on to find out my first impressions of it: expand full story

review Stories January 31, 2015

There are some things you only appreciate once you become a homeowner. For me, Velcro cable ties are one of those things. I discovered them when I was looking for a way to clean up the rat’s nest of cables behind my Mac. Then something happened — I started using these ties for a little bit of everything.

velcro-cable-tie-how-to They are incredibly simple. Just wrap the tie around some cables or any item, tuck one end through the hole on the opposite side, pull through, and the Velcro material handles everything else. It’ll cleanly attach to itself with little effort. It’s so simple, yet works so well.

I bought the 100-pack of 8-inch x 1/2-inch ties for just $5.99, which are specifically made for wrangling cables. They are so versatile it’s crazy. If it’s too long you can cut it to the perfect length or combine a bunch to tackle bigger projects. Either way it’ll attach to itself and secure any cable.

velcro-cable-ties

Aside from managing the many cables coming out of my Mac, I’m also using these ties to wrap loose cables from power adapters.

Call me over-cautious, but I don’t like using the built-in cable hooks on Apple’s MacBook Power Adapters. I’m not comfortable with how tight it has to be wound and how much force it puts on the cable. So I’m using a Velcro tie to keep my MacBook charger power cable under control when it’s not in use.

In the past I’ve used heavy duty nylon cable ties for similar tasks but most aren’t reusable. I also don’t love how rigid and borderline sharp these types of ties are. They’re fine for more durable items, but I like to handle my electronics with kid gloves.

I’m only using the shorter version, but there are tons of different kinds in various lengths and colors. There are seemingly an endless number of uses for these little wonders… expand full story

review Stories December 8, 2014

Most iPad accessory makers work tirelessly to design a product that echoes Apple’s signature design. Griffin and Rail Yard Studios’ Rail Artifact Stand does the opposite. Instead of melting away during use, its one of a kind design not only stands out, but in my opinion, steals the spotlight. Just as its name indicates, the Rail Artifact Stand is made from authentic early 1900’s railroad pieces. From pitted steel to worn edges, every stand shows its history in a unique way… expand full story

review Stories August 24, 2014

These tech essentials will not only help you survive college life, but maybe even help you land a spot on the Dean’s list (no promises). Even though the majority of our top picks are geared towards college students living in a dorm, we think they can help students of all ages.

All of the recommendations below have been shaped by my experiences while attending a four-year private University.

Entertainment

slinbox-m1

The fall is not only back to school season, but also home to the baseball playoffs and the start of the football season. MLB.TV is expensive and NFL Sunday Ticket is a hassle. We recommend a Sling Media Slingbox to keep tabs on your favorite sports teams while away from home. The all-new SlingBox M1 was just released and is the most affordable Slingbox ever at just $149.99.

Xbox One and PlayStation 4 may be the flashy options for dorm room gaming, but we recommend saving a few bucks and opting for an Xbox 360 or Wii U. The Xbox 360 has a huge back super-smash-bros-wii-ucatalog of awesome games that are now priced to move. Plus, some next-gen games (like Mortal Kombat X), will also be available on 360 and PS3. The Wii U has had a rough run, but party games like Mario Kart 8 and the upcoming Super Smash Brothers make it an excellent choice for dorm room hang sessions.

Skip Blu-ray and DVD. The players will take up prime TV stand real-estate and it’s a hassle to find the movie you’re looking for and then physically pop it in a player (I know, first world problems). Instead, go with a Roku 3/streaming stick or Apple TV to stream your media from Netflix (free trial), Hulu Plus (free trial), and iTunes.

spotify-premium-deal

It’s perfectly OK that listening to Norah Jones Spotify radio (student discount) helps you study, but don’t be that guy and play it out loud. A nice pair of headphones are key for school. If your budget allows it, then definitely upgrade to a set of noise-cancelling cans, like the Bose QC15, to drown out any background noise. Bust out a larger portable Bluetooth speaker like the Logitech UE BOOM (review) or Jawbone’s Big JAMBOX (review) when it’s time to party.

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electrek 

review Stories September 2, 2013

Just-Mobile is an award-winning design company behind some of the best accessories for your iPhone, iPad, Mac and other gadgets. We’ve taken a look at several of their products in the past and always came away thoroughly impressed with the build quality and thoughtful designs of these items.

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the UpStand for iPad, which is a ‘high-style’ iPad stand with a focus on design and function. You can find several low-cost tablet stands all over Amazon and eBay and those may do the trick for some people, but there’s also those who appreciate accessory makers who take the time to design products that complement their Apple gear. Just-Mobile is that company. Keep reading to see if the UpStand lives up to our lofty expectations…

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review Stories July 27, 2013

RHA designs and engineers their audio products in Britain and prides themselves on honing in on the small details of a product and making them great. Prior to testing their headphones, I had never heard of RHA (they’re a division of Reid Heath Ltd.), but the fact that Apple retail carries their products coupled with their sharp industrial design made me want to check them out.

As quick as Apple can give me new set of headphones with each iDevice, I somehow find a way to misplace, break, or water (OK, sweat) damage them. I am assuming many of you are just like me in that regard and, as such, prefer a pair of solid earbuds under the $50 mark. At first glance, it seemed that the RHA M350 noise-isolating aluminum headphones would the fit the bill, so I decided to give them a test drive.

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